" It’s been 84 years and I can still smell the fresh paint "
— Gloria Stuart, Titanic

MRQE Top Critic

The Great Train Robbery

(review...)

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(also read the review by Marty Mapes)

The Sixth Sense tells the tale of Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), a boy living a nightmare. He has the ability to see dead people and it’s up to Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis), an award-winning child psychologist, to help him overcome his fears.

Surprises

Bruce Willis haunts the Sixth SenseThe Sixth Sense was a small movie that came out of left field and offered a lot of surprises.

One of the biggest surprises was that it helped complete the “redemption” of Bruce Willis, a good actor whose ego got in the way after the success of over-the-top action films like the Die Hard trilogy. Thankfully, Willis also managed to put his stint moonlighting as Bruno, his rock ‘n’ roll alter ego, behind him and created a stunningly subtle and sensitive performance as Dr. Crowe.

The Sixth Sense also boasts an incredible performance from Osment, the child prodigy who went on to star in A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. As Cole, the troubled boy with knowledge beyond his years, Osment’s performance is the benchmark for child performers; it’s a shame he had to go home with only an Oscar nomination and no statue.

Of course, the movie also offers a knockout conclusion in the grand tradition of The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock. It’s a testament to the power, and success, of the film that the ending’s secret was preserved for audiences to enjoy well into its theatrical run. Yes, there were scattered people who said they figured it all out early, but it’s hard to believe them.

The Sixth Sense is an uncommon piece of popular entertainment. It maintains a strong romantic spirit while telling an eerie tale about communication in the here and now – and in the next life.

I See New Extras

The Sixth Sense was released in 2000 as a well-done single-disc “Collector’s Edition” DVD. Now, nearly two years later, the Vista Series edition tries to improve upon the original. The new version contains most of the content from the first release and it also conjures up some nice new supplements, but not necessarily enough new stuff to make it an overwhelming improvement.

One of the biggest attractions of the new set is the film itself, now offered in a pristine, THX-certified picture and with pitch-perfect sound in Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 formats.

There are also two new 40-minute documentaries. Between Two Worlds is an interesting analysis of the paranormal and its cinematic appearances. Included are interviews with Shyamalan, William Peter Blatty, author of The Exorcist, and Bruce Joel Rubin, writer of Ghost and Jacob’s Ladder. Shyamalan and Blatty in particular offer some valuable insights and have interesting stories to tell.

The other documentary, Reflections From The Set, is a fairly typical behind-the-scenes segment, featuring new interviews with the cast and crew.

Also new in the Vista edition is a 10-minute look at the storyboard process entitled Moving Pictures: The Storyboard Process. While somewhat interesting, it comes across like a sales pitch from Shyamalan and collaborator Brick Mason as they justify the detailed efforts they go through in the pre-production process.

The new edition also includes Spanish subtitles and updated biographies, which now include references to Shyamalan’s follow up efforts, Unbreakable and the forthcoming Signs.

Also new is the very deluxe packaging for the two-disc set, featuring a 5-panel cardboard holder and a slipcase. The new set also includes a rather superfluous “collectible” card with storyboards from the making of the film.

The Missing And The Rest

The idea behind Buena Vista’s Vista Series is “Celebrating the filmmaker’s vision with imagination and content.” The titles are supposed to be presented in a definitive edition with supplements that contribute to the viewing experience. For the most part, they’ve done a good job with The Sixth Sense and the new content is insightful and worthwhile.

However, there are goodies from the original missing on this new edition. Gone is the “Easter egg” containing Shyamalan’s first horror movie, made when he was a 12-year-old boy and which he described in his own introduction as “just awful.”

The material covered in A Conversation With M. Night Shyamalan, in which he talked about his background and the cultural phenomenon that became The Sixth Sense, is more or less covered in the new documentaries, but it wouldn’t have hurt to include this original interview with the other supplements.

The original disc’s Storyboard To Film Comparison was revamped and fleshed out in the new edition’s segment, which more than sufficiently covers the topic.

Aside from those couple features missing on the new edition, the other supplements are contained exactly as they were presented on the original disc. It’s a small point, but it would’ve been nice if the original features were incorporated into the new packaging scheme instead of being simply spliced onto the supplemental disc.

Those features include four deleted scenes (all worth watching and in a completed form, not just rough cut excerpts), Reaching The Audience (a brief bit about the film’s popularity), Music And Sound Design, Rules And Clues (a look at the “rules” built to maintain consistency around the film’s premise), and a trailer and two TV commercials.

Is it worth upgrading? For most people, the answer is probably “No.” If you have DTS equipment and can tell the difference, then that’s an argument worth considering. Overall, it’s unfortunate this edition is not more definitive. A running commentary from Shyamalan still has not been recorded, opening the door for perhaps a “Very Special” Vista edition down the road.

However, if the choice is between the original disc and the Vista edition, there’s no contest. The Vista edition is the way to go.